Resources for Patients and their Families

Houston Shipyards

Houston Shipyards opened its doors to commercial, private, and government clients just prior to World War I, and played a key role in supplying the U.S. navy with war craft during both World War I and World War II. The shipyard was ideally located, and the surrounding area featured an abundance of woodlands, which gave the shipping industry easy access to a ready source of lumber.

During the World Wars, the Houston Shipyards employed tho9usands of men and women and produced nearly 2,000 warships. The shipyards comprised a huge, sprawling complex which included several marine enterprises, including the Todd Houston Shipbuilding concern; Bloodworth Bond; Schmidt Barge Yard; Brown Shipbuilding; and Platzer Boat Works.

Workers at the Houston Shipyard were involved in virtually every aspect of marine craft building, repair, and restoration work, handling thousands of parts and materials daily during regular work duties. Unfortunately, the bulk of these parts and materials contained large amounts of asbestos.

Because of its unique resistance to both heat and moisture, asbestos seemed an ideal material for the m manufacture of marine repair parts, as well as the many types of insulation and coating materials required by the craft and their electrical and propulsion systems. Naturally formed as a fibrous silica-based mineral, asbestos is flexible while retaining a high degree of tensile strength, allowing it to be successfully formed into a number of applications, including gaskets, which must respond to high heat and pressure while retaining a degree of flexibility.

When used in the shipbuilding and repair of ships and other watercraft, asbestos-based materials release a fine dust of tiny particles which are easily airborne. Men and women working in or near these activities regularly inhaled and ingested varying quantities of the dust, which attaches to the lungs and other internal organs where it can cause potentially deadly conditions including mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer.

Then symptoms malignant mesothelioma can take years – even decades – to manifest. There is no cure for asbestos-related diseases, but steps can be taken to reduce some symptoms temporarily. If you worked for the Houston Shipyards, you should speak to your physician regarding your possible exposure risks and health complications as mesothelioma navy cases are most common.

Author: Linda Molinari

Editor in Chief, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

Linda Molinari